ST Forum: Take care when letting go of staff

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Forum: Take care when letting go of staff

18 Nov 2022

The current high-profile layoffs by tech firms are worrying for two main reasons: the magnitude of the cuts and the manner in which some of these firms are managing the process.

Talent is one of the key resources for running a business. The role of human resources is to ensure there is the right quality and quantity at the right time, so the business can continue to prosper. They have to understand the business and have a talent planning strategy. But plans sometimes go wrong due to circumstances beyond the business’ control. Business leaders must strike a balance between getting the numbers right and business growth potential.

Chief executives must take ownership when letting employees go. The news must be communicated on a one-to-one basis, and ideally in person. The reason behind the retrenchment has to be articulated with empathy. It’s always about the business, never about individuals.

Those let go must be given the time and opportunity to say their goodbyes to their colleagues and to pack their personal items with dignity. E-mail accounts must not be disabled without sufficient notification time. Career transition programmes can be provided as an emotional and practical support. 

For those who are let go, the key thing is to remove yourself from the situation and not blame yourself. Tell yourself it is your job that is made redundant, not you. Accept the situation, keep your confidence and self-esteem intact, and do all that you can do to create your own future. Surround yourself with family and friends who are supportive and try to enjoy the transition. Often, career transitions are golden opportunities to reinvent yourself.

Hiring and firing processes must be professionally managed, as the market image of employers is important. They will have to hire again eventually. Employees are not mere digits; they are human beings. It is not just the employees being laid off that are affected; we have to factor in their family members too.

Paul Heng

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